A recent posting on the Reddit Photography pages asked readers, ‘What ‘creative’ photography trope are you sick and tired of? I’m talking about the tropey crap, the badly applied presets, the prop that every newbie-with-a-camera thinks they’re creative for using, but that no one’s done anything creative with (or uses irresponsibly), etc.’
Responses were entertaining, plentiful, and mostly good-natured, ranging from grumpiness at the use of smoke grenades (corny and dangerous) to profile pics with the photographer holding a camera to their face. Here’s a selection of terms and practices, which got on the herd of goats of the Redditeers, along with some alternative definitions of the offending cliches.
The first selection relates to how some photographers define themselves, along with some alternative definitions:
Digital artist – aka a photographer who uses Lightroom
Purist (self-described) – someone who feels threatened by other photographers
Natural light photographer – photographer who can’t afford/doesn’t know how to use a speedlite
Photog or professional protog (self described) – oh dear
Visual storyteller – see below
Visual influencer – see above
Entry level pro – still looking for first paying job
Then there are the euphemisms and stock phrases which can rear their heads when photographers talk to each other or clients:
A difficult edit – A bad picture that a client is excited about
Mini-session – A photo shoot priced at $50 or less
Paying your dues – Accepting abusive behaviour for little or no pay.
Seeking a fresh look – owes every established photographer money/trying to find someone who will do the job for mini-session prices
Side hustle – hobby, second job, pyramid scheme/’Somethingsomethinglatestagecapitalismsomethingsomething’
Instagram crop – A ruined composition
‘You must have a really nice camera’ – just annoying
Affordable photography – Cheap, unprofitable, and most likely not running a legal business. (See ‘entry-level pro’)
Unphotogenic/problematic subject – people the photographer wouldn’t necessarily put in their portfolio because they don’t fit their ‘standard’ of beauty.
Rendering Canon colours – Applying a ‘vintage’ filter before posting
Cinematic – wide aspect ratio, over-the-top colour grading, lotsa blue and orange
Straight out of camera/unedited – when used as a badge of legitimacy: ‘I’m so good, I don’t even need to edit’
Exposure – something narcissists believe they will provide in exchange for doing their job for free
L&A. Apparently it stands for ‘light & airy’ style. – Common in (US?) wedding photography circles. (Aka: overexposed and washed out.)
The Golden Hour – two hours before sunset/sunrise in case the client is late.
Collab – working for free
Gear doesn’t matter/it’s you, not the gear – ‘I managed to get a good photo with iPhone 4’ (But it would have been a lot better with a GFX100s).
– And other phrases and neologisms which just grated on some Reddit-readers ears:
Sticks for tripods
‘togs and photes – regrettable foreshortening of ‘photographers’ and ‘photographs’ (also see ‘professional protog’ above)
‘Sick tones, bro’
‘I took this click’
But a couple of contributors took umbrage at all the umbrage: Personally, what makes me roll my eyes most when it comes to photography are constant posts on various message boards denigrating anyone who does ‘cliche’ photography. I think it’s an ego thing to subtly put yourself above other photographers.
And rounding things off nicely with this reply:
THANK YOU. Photography has been around for a long time, everything is going to be repetitive in some way at this point. Just let people joy things and don’t be a salty bastard about it, right?!